In light of the fact that it is February—the month in which we celebrate Valentine's Day—may I ask you a very personal question? "How's your love life?"
The reason I ask is because your love life, my love life, is a very strong indicator of our relationship with God.
So how about three more heart-searching questions? Questions you might want to bring before God in prayer, asking Him to show you exactly where you really are. I know that as I have examined myself—and continue to do so—God is showing me how much I have to learn—where I fail, where I am weak and how much I need to grow in love. My cry has been, "Lord, teach me about love." What's your cry in respect to love?
Here, dear one, are the questions:
First, how well do you love God? And what about others? How do you do in that arena?
Second, whom do you love the most? God? Others? Yourself?
Third, how dwells the love of God in you? Do you know anyone who needs loving? Whether he or she is lovable or not, have you made yourself available to God to be His means of loving that person?
Two months ago we celebrated Christmas—a holiday that in the most incredulous of ways not only reminds us of God's unfathomable love for us, but for the world . . . most of whom do not even know He came or Who He was—Who He is! And if they do know His name, too often it is only as an expletive. John 3:16 tells us that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.
The baby placed in Mary's womb supernaturally was the very Son of God . . . the only begotten of the Father . . . born to die. God incarnate—living in flesh just like ours. Tempted but without sin. The One deemed the Lamb of God who would take away the sins of the world by tasting death (and the separation it brings) for every man. The One forsaken by the Father so that you and I would be accepted as Beloved—and never, ever forsaken or forgotten.
And what were we like when God expressed such love towards us? Romans 5 tell us Jesus Christ died for us when we were without hope. Without hope because we were without God. He loved us when we were ungodly, helpless sinners—enemies!
As the ancient hymn writer put it, "Amazing love! How can it be, that Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?"
As I write this, I think of a testimony—the story of Serge LeClure. At the age of eight Serge was taken from his hardworking, loving, single mother and committed to a home for delinquent boys—a home where he would be "properly cared for." The "care" turned out to be abuse, bullying and rape. It was a "care" he constantly ran from, a "care" that caused him not to care! But he did learn to survive—through hate.
Serge rose to the top as a gang leader at fifteen. As a dealer in drugs, he received over a million dollars for his services. He also spent twenty-one years in prison, six of which were in solitary confinement. Through a chain of events in prison, he came in touch with people who endured embarrassment, harassment and much more, for the sole purpose of telling others about the love of God. For two years, Serge observed love in action—genuine caring. At the age of thirty-eight, Serge LeClure knelt on the cement floor of his cell and received the tangible gift of God's love by believing on the Lord Jesus Christ.
He rose from the floor a new creature—set free from his addiction to drugs. The unlovable was loved, the condemned prisoner was pardoned, the incorrigible tempered, the sinner deemed a saint, set apart for God. And all because of the love of God! As 1 John says, "In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation [the satisfaction] for our sins."
This is the power of God's love.
The power to love. A power given to each of us who believe on His name. A love that becomes the distinguishing evidence of our salvation according to 1 John 3:10-14; 1 John 4:7 and 1 John 4:20 and 1 John 5:1.
So how's your love life? Do you love God? God says we are to love Him with all our heart, mind, body, soul and strength. But not only God; we are to love others. Those who are genuinely born of God not only love the Father, but the child born of Him. Thus Jesus gave His disciples a new commandment: we are to love one another even as He loves us (John 13:34-35). It would be time well invested to meditate on the ways He expressed His love toward us, toward others, even toward the one who would betray Him.
And what is it that keeps us from loving like this?
John, the apostle of love, tells us in his first epistle by way of a warning: "Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away . . ." (1 John 2:15-16).
Yet the world is so very present, isn't it? So alluring! So tangible! So appealing to our flesh, our ego, our desire to be, to attain, to "make it"! But you have to ask yourself, will it last? Is it worth what you pay in time, in energy, in relationships?
Ours is a culture of concupiscence—a culture that has infiltrated the church. We have a love of softness. We are told, "You deserve it! You earned it. You owe it to yourself to be good to yourself!" Oh Beloved, we hear it and we believe it. We have so loved softness that we have not endured hardship as a soldier of Christ. We have not disciplined ourselves for the sake of godliness.
And part of godliness is loving—as He loved—sacrificially, selflessly. Loving others not just with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth. When we love His way, then we assure our heart before Him, and we have confidence in the coming day of judgment, because as He is in this world, so are we. They know we are His disciples by our love—His love unleashed in us to overflow on the world about us.
So, how is your love life, Beloved?
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